Consumer Reports: Backpack buying tips for back to school

It's that time of year again - back to school. And Consumer Reports has some backpack-buying advice to help you gear up when it comes to back to school shopping.

For many students, back-to-school happiness hinges on the backpack.

"I like to focus, like, on the color, see how much space is in it, pockets to hold, you know, extra stuff," said student Melanie Telleria.

Experts at Consumer Reports say there are other important attributes to consider as well to ensure comfort and prevent injury.

"The most important thing is fit, for sure," said Alex Willen from Consumer Reports.

Look for straps that are wide, padded and contoured. A waist belt is another key detail.

The top of the shoulder straps should sit one or two inches below the shoulders.

And you want the bottom of the pack to rest in the small of your back -- never more than four inches below the waistline.

"If a backpack has the right features and it fits properly, then a good one will distribute the weight more evenly on your body and take pressure off of your back and shoulders," said Willen.

Reflective trim can also be important, particularly if your child walks to school.

Consumer Reports has tested backpacks extensively over the years - lifting, lowering, and tumbling them - to check durability.

If you're in a store and want an idea of how well made a bag is, take a peek inside.

"If you see things like loose threads or sloppy stitching, raw, unfinished edges, it's usually a sure sign that the bag wasn't made well," said Willen.

A little homework before you buy can help you ace this assignment.

Another important step to preventing injury is to check how heavy your child's backpack is when it's fully loaded.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids carry no more than 10 to 20 percent of their body weight.
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